November 1, 2005
San Diego, CA
Buy Rate: .55
Announcers: Joey Styles & Jerry Lawler
Fun Fact: As Raw returned to USA, Vince McMahon determined that Jim Ross was no longer what he was looking for in a lead commentator for his flagship brand. It was also around this time that JR was diagnosed with extra tissue in his colon that would need to be removed surgically. To explain his absence, Vince and Linda McMahon fired JR on the 10/10 Raw. With Ross needing time off, Vince saw this as an opening to go with a younger and more vibrant announcer. He began a public courtship with UFC announcer Mike Goldberg, offering him a giant contract that would include primary Raw announcing duties as well as a bonus to no-show the upcoming UFC PPV. After rumors swirled that Goldberg was going to accept the deal, he balked and decided to stay with UFC instead. This left Vince in a bind as he had hoped to have Goldberg in place to announce on the 10/17 Raw. With no big name to bring in, Vince installed Jonathan Coachman in the lead PBP role starting on the 10/17 show. Not completely thrilled with Coachman in the role, Vince continued to search for JR’s replacement, eventually reaching out to Joey Styles, an unlikely choice. Styles would show up here unannounced to fill in for Coachman. He would take over full time Raw announcing duties the following week and eventually inked a five year deal to become the new lead announcer for the show.
Fun Fact II: In late 2004, WWE and Viacom began negotiations to extend the run of WWE programming on Spike TV, whose current deal expired in September the following year. In March 2005, after some serious panhandling and acrimonious dealing from Viacom, Vince saw the writing on the wall and broke off negotiations; making it all but certain WWE would be leaving Spike. On April 4, that thought would become reality as the WWE announced a new three year deal with NBC Universal. The deal called for the return of Monday Night RAW to the USA Network for the first time since 2000 beginning on October 3rd, as well as a new weekend show recapping the weekly RAW, a replay of RAW in Spanish on Telemundo, and periodic specials on NBC, which would eventually lead to the return of Saturday Night’s Main Event. However, the two weekend shows, Heat and Velocity, would be moved to WWE.com due to its failure to gain a slot in the U.S. On the 9/26 RAW, the final telecast on Spike, Viacom executives decided to censor any WWE personalities who tried to mention Raw’s move to USA in any fashion, resulting in a wild night of vanishing sound. Toward the end of the program, the executives supposedly gave in, as J.R. and King were able to sneak in “Next week on USA.” The next week, the Homecoming episode aired and brought in Raw’s highest rating in three years, hitting close to six million viewers. Raw continues to air on USA and WWE programming is a staple on NBC Universal’s networks to this day.
Fun Fact III: This is San Diego’s first PPV since Chris Jericho’s historic Undisputed Championship night at Vengeance 2001. This is also California’s 18th PPV, tying New York for the most amongst the states. Also like 2001, this is California’s third PPV of the year.
Sunday Night Heat
Kerwin White (Chavo Guerrero) & Matt Striker (Matthew Kaye) defeat Shelton Benjamin & Val Venis (Sean Morley)
Pay Per View
1) Rey Mysterio (Oscar Gutierrez) & Matt Hardy defeat Gene Snitsky & Chris Masters (Chris Mordetzky) when Mysterio pins Masters with a springboard splash at 13:44
Fans choose Smackdown Team
Hardy: 31%; Mysterio: 29%; John Bradshaw Layfield: 17%; Christian: 13%; Hardcore Holly: 10%
Fun Fact: On the 10/3 Raw, Edge defeated Matt Hardy in a ladder match. Due to the pre-match stipulation, Hardy had to leave Raw. Edge’s Money in the Bank briefcase was also on the line. Teddy Long would later sign him to Smackdown.
Fun Fact II: On the 10/3 Raw USA Homecoming special, Vince McMahon announced that there would be a special Smackdown match for the show, however Vince left the arena before the match occurred. As the match was starting, Eric Bischoff came out and said that nobody wanted to see the match, turned off the lights and then sent the show to commercial break. To get revenge, Teddy led out a band of Smackdown stars to brawl with Raw stars to close out the show. On 10/17, the cross brand war continued as JBL’s music played during an Edge match, causing him to lose. In response, Edge and Chris Masters showed up on the 10/21 Smackdown and assaulted Rey Mysterio as he was wrestling JBL. On 10/24, it was announced that Edge and Masters would wrestle two Smackdown wrestlers at the PPV. After the announcement, Rey attacked Edge. The next week, Mysterio was invited to Raw to participate in the Masterlock Challenge, but Rey instead attacked Masters, triggering another big brawl between both sides. At the PPV, prior to the match, Edge ducked out of the bout, saying he didn’t care about Raw and announced that Snitsky would be replacing him.
Scott: So Edge bails out of the match, and gets replaced with a second stiff to add to the first stiff already in the match. This match has absolutely no sizzle to it whatsoever. Clearly Rey and Matt were going to win this match as no one even on Raw cares about these two bums. Sure Masters had a bit of a spike during the Shawn Michaels feud, but really he didn’t have the credibility, nor did Snitsky, of Matt & Rey. Matt clearly looks mad after Snitsky half-asses the impact end of a superplex. The San Diego crowd is amped due to their hometown amigo being in the match. Joey Styles already added some much needed sizzle to the show, as the past few Raw shows were losing steam with the same announcing sound. Really, it’s nothing against JR as he’s always good on the big shows. Sometimes these secondary shows sound so bland and dull and you can see it in the announcing vibe. The crowd’s heat helped the match motor in the last few minutes and the Smackdown guys get the win with double planchas and double finishers. This was a prelude to our second November PPV in the brand war. Grade: 2.5
Justin: Well, after his huge Unforgiven cage match win, the fears of wrestling fans around the internet came to fruition when Matt Hardy lost to Edge in a ladder match and was shipped to Smackdown. After all the fanfare and promises from Hardy regarding the angle, he ended up losing in the end and being sent off to Friday nights. The San Diego fans didn’t seem to care though, as Hardy gets a big pop for his entrance. It looked like his war with Edge would continue here, but he backs out of the match before it starts and puts his old buddy Snitsky in his place. I liked how they had two referees for the match with one from each brand. It led to some funny spots and a nice touch to the bout. Styles and Lawler would play up the brand rivalry as Masters and Snitsky used their power to control early. Despite his Raw banishment, Matt showed great energy here and hit the spot of the match when he dropped Snitsky with a DDT off the top rope. The Raw bruisers would use their power offense while working a nice double heat segment into the match. Masters and Snitsky actually worked pretty well as a team and probably could have worked out well if kept together. After the hot tag, Masters would hook Rey with the Masterlock and whip him around, but Rey would hang on. As the refs began to bicker, Rey and Matt hit a nice double dive to the floor, wiping out Masters and Snitsky. Rey would end up picking up the win, pinning Masters, to end this fluid, well paced and well-worked tag match. It was pretty hot throughout and they got a good amount of time to work with. Despite losing the war with Edge, Matt heats up and picks up his first PPV win in his second tour as a member of the Smackdown roster. Grade: 2.5
2) Eugene (Nick Dinsmore) & Jimmy Snuka (James Reiher) defeat Rob Conway & Tyson Tomko (Travis Tomko) when Snuka pins Conway with the Superfly Splash at 6:19
Fans choose WWE Legend
Jimmy Snuka: 42%; Jim Duggan: 40%; Kamala: 18%
Fun Fact: This is Tyson Tomko’s final PPV. After bouncing around Raw, Tomko asked for his release in April 2006. He would head to Japan for a brief stint before heading to TNA late in the year. He would stay in TNA until 2008, when he would head back to WWE for a brief stint. He would never make it to TV; however, as he injured his back and was quietly released. In 2009, he would return to Japan and TNA but was released from TNA in 2010. His final record is 1-3.
Fun Fact II: Rob Conway debuted his new look and attitude on the 7/17 Heat. He began calling himself the “Con-Man” and now came down to some interesting Randy Newman inspired music. On 10/3, Dusty Rhodes assembled a group of legends in the ring to help celebrate Raw’s Homecoming. During the segment, Conway came to the ring and began disrespecting all of the legends. Well, they didn’t care for that and they all took turns beating on the Con-Man, eventually dumping him out to the floor. The next week, Conway set out to destroy some legends and the first in line was Doink the Clown. Conway easily dispatched of him and was abusing him until Eugene made the save. Conway recovered and took out Eugene as well. Over the next two episodes of Heat, Conway would also defeat Koko B. Ware and Greg Valentine, the latter by DQ when Eugene got involved. On 10/31, Conway and Eugene squared off and the match ended in DQ when Conway cracked him with a chair. That attack brought Jim Duggan, Kamala, Jimmy Snuka and Jerry Lawler out for the save. The legends got some revenge and took Conway out. The PPV match was intended to be a handicap match, but Bischoff added Tomko as Conway’s partner to level the playing field.
Fun Fact III: This would also be Conway’s last PPV appearance as well. He would embark on a massive losing streak that amounted to a long 14 months. He would only achieve one victory, and that was in a mixed tag match on Heat. On the New Year’s 2007 edition of RAW, he faced Jeff Hardy and vowed to quit if he lost. Well, he lost. But shortly after, Mr. McMahon came out and said he couldn’t quit because he was fired. Conway would stick around and wrestle in OVW until his release in May 2007. He has since wrestled for OVW and other indy organizations. His final record is 2-7.
Scott: I know a lot of people didn’t want Snuka picked, but if Duggan had won I would have protested the match and would have written no comments on it. Kamala I could have dealt with, but certainly not Hacksaw snot-boy. So when Snuka won I marked out a bit. Snuka was my first favorite wrestler way back in 1983, during his blood feud with Magnificent Muraco for the IC Title. Ah, back when things were simpler. Run-ins, awesome promos, cage matches at the Garden. Pardon me while I wipe the tear from my cheek. Anyway back to the present. The match is ok, as Conway, with new cool tights and incredibly swank entrance theme, and Christian’s former muscle are nothing spectacular and Eugene hasn’t been relevant in over a year. Snuka hits the big Superfly Splash for the win. Then when Tomko starts roughing the faces up, out comes Duggan and Kamala to clean house. Then Duggan’s theme plays…how…great. Let’s move on. Grade: 2
Justin: Along with his new gimmick, music and look, Rob Conway also looked to have found a few bottles of juice lying around the locker room too as he was just gassed to the gills here. As we have discussed throughout the year, the steroid problem was really reaching dangerous levels at this point and 2005 was clearly the peak for out of control juicing. Unfortunately, that would come to a screeching halt for all the wrong reasons by the end of 2005. Eugene’s act was really wearing thin by this point as he did his usual shtick and it just bored me right out of the gate. They had a pretty basic match here with a quick heat segment on Eugene. The crowd woke up a bit as Snuka tagged in and he and Eugene cleaned house. Snuka would hit a vintage Superfly Splash for the win, which I really didn’t understand. The splash was a nice visual, but Conway got smacked around by all these legends leading up to the show and probably should have went over Eugene here to get some heat back. Or they could have even had the directionless Tomko take the loss too. Tomko and Conway would attack after the bell, but Duggan and Kamala would make the save. The legends celebrate in the end but this was just a blah nostalgia match. Grade: 1
3) Mankind (Mick Foley) defeats Carlito (Carly Colon) with the Mandible Claw at 7:21
Fans choose Mick Foley’s persona
Mankind: 52%; Cactus Jack: 35%; Dude Love: 13%
Fun Fact: On 10/17, Carlito was in his Cabana and talking smack about the recently fired Jim Ross, when Mick Foley made a surprise appearance to join him. They would jaw back and forth over JR and about being cool before Foley walked off. Later in the show, Carlito would challenge Foley to a PPV match and he would accept. The next week, Stephanie McMahon came out and had a confrontation with Foley over JR’s firing. That would draw Carlito out as well. Steph would drop Foley with a low blow and Carlito spit apple on him. Carlito would also beat him down again later in the night as Foley was acting as a guest referee. Finally, on 10/31 we got a classic Foley Titantron sketch as he morphed from character to character, issuing warnings to Carlito.
Scott: I went into this match already pissed that Cactus Jack wasn’t chosen, because then we would have seen the garbage can filled with delicious weapons thrown down the ramp. Instead we get boring Mankind. Now the DVD played his awesome 1996 crazed Mankind theme, but he came out in the dumb shirt/tie 1999 fat, out of shape sloth Mankind. I’m surprised he didn’t pull out the 1999 fat man powder blue sweatpants. The match itself is ok, but not to the level that Foley was at the previous April when Mick made Randy Orton a star at Backlash 2004. He wasn’t going to make Carlito a star as Foley clearly was not in top shape here and went the paint-by-numbers approach with he who is Cool. Foley did try to do the 1996 mannerisms by rocking back and forth Indian-style and pull his hair out. Not the same with the goofy shirt and tie on. Although there are aspects of Foley I will always love: The Tree of Woe, and his favorite diet: Violence. Mind you we won’t be seeing Cactus Jack/Terry Funk death match level, although putting Carlito through a thumb-tack filled table on fire would have been tremendous, but we got something mostly inoffensive. I didn’t hate it, but the fact it wasn’t Cactus Jack soured my opinion of it. He sinks the Mandible Claw, complete with Carlito wig, maybe named Mr. Carlocko, and Foley wins. Grade: 2
Justin: I was pretty disappointed in the match right from the start as the fans choose for Foley to portray Mankind. And it wasn’t even classic creepy Mankind but rather sloppy late era Mankind instead. Foley was in rough shape here, and was looking bigger than usual. You could tell he hadn’t really been preparing for this outing. He would dominate early with his usual Mankind offense but Carlito turned things around with a nice dropkick on the floor, sending Mick skull first into the ring steps. Mick would recover though, hit some more of his usual offense and then lock in the Socko claw for the win. This was another choppy match and another unnecessary result. I enjoy some nostalgia here and there, but I don’t think we needed to see two young heels squashed at the hands of legends that were showing up for one shots. This one is a bit more palatable than the senior citizen Snuka pinning Conway, but not much better. The match itself had a standard structure but was bland and choppy and never really got going. Grade: 1.5
*** Backstage, Vince McMahon confronts Eric Bischoff and chastises him for Raw’s loss earlier in the show. He tells Bischoff that he is on his own from now on and that he wants the old Monday Night Wars Bischoff back to be in charge of Raw. Bischoff fumes as Vince leaves the office. ***
4) Big Show (Paul Wight) & Kane (Glen Jacobs) defeat Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch (William Mueller) to win World Tag Team Titles when Show pins Cade after a double chokeslam at 7:57
Fun Fact: Big Show and Kane earned this title shot by losing the vote to compete in the main event.
Scott: If we all picked Michaels for a million dollars, well we’d all be millionaires. It was a foregone conclusion that the uber-popular Shawn Michaels would win the #1 contender vote, so the two big guys will go out and clearly defeat the heel champs. I liked Cade and Murdoch as a team and regardless of wanting to reward the veterans, jobbing your young tag champs out was stupid. The match was pretty sloppy, but then with Kane and Big Show all you see are power moves and slow walking. I started to get pretty annoyed with this show by now because all these babyfaces winning took a lot of the starch out of up and coming heels. At least these matches were fairly short, so time could be spent on the other, more important matches later on. At this point I’m waiting for the inevitable double chokeslam…ah there it is and the two big guys are World Tag Team Champs. This was a bad booking decision to take the gold off two solid heels just to appease the losers of the #1 contender vote. Boo to the bookers. Grade: 2
Justin: After being voted out of the main event, Kane and Big Show team up here to face the hot heel champs. Big Show was looking to be at his biggest here and wasn’t looking very healthy as he marches down to the ring. All four men worked pretty stiff and it led to a fun big man match. The challengers would use their strength while the champs countered with smooth teamwork. Kane and Show would eventually knock Murdoch to the floor and drop Cade for the win. While I thought Kane and Show made a good team and could be useful in the role, I thought it was another dumb move to take the titles off Cade & Murdoch so quickly, really killing off the heat they had been building up. For our third straight match we get a questionable result, but this time the match is at least solid. Grade: 2
5) Batista defeats Jonathan Coachman in a street fight with a Batistabomb at 4:16
Fans choose match type
Street Fight: 91%; Verbal Debate: 6%; Arm Wrestling match: 3%
Fun Fact: The Man They Call Vader makes his first WWE PPV appearance since 1998. After leaving the then WWF in late 1998, Vader spent time in Japan and TNA prior to his return here. After this show, he would hit the Indy circuit before retiring at the end of 2006. Outside of one match in 2010, he has stayed on the sidelines and has focused his efforts on training his son to become a wrestler as well.
Fun Fact II: Goldust had been released from WWE in December 2003. Since that time, he had a stint in TNA before returning for this show. He would disappear after the show, but would pop back up for a brief run in 2006, including taking part in the Royal Rumble. After that, he vanishes again for another two years.
Fun Fact III: Following Jim Ross’s firing, Vince McMahon installed Jonathan Coachman as the lead announcer on Raw. Coach would wear a cowboy hat similar to JR’s and would mock him while on commentary as well. On 10/17, JR’s good friend Steve Austin showed up looking for revenge. He would have a confrontation with Stephanie McMahon and they agreed that Austin would wrestle Coach at the PPV with a pair of stipulations. If Austin won, JR would be rehired but if Coach won, Austin would be fired from WWE. Austin agreed and the confronted Coach, who nervously backed down from Stone Cold. On 10/24, we were treated to one of the most bizarre skits in WWE history as Vince McMahon dressed up as Dr. Heiny and mocked JR’s recent colon surgery. The skit started OK but lasted way too long and quickly deteriorated. Many people thought the skit was offensive, but it was defended by WWE and others as they claimed the skit happened once they confirmed JR’s surgery was a success and not cancerous. When 10/31 rolled around, things had changed dramatically. Vince had wanted Steve Austin to job clean to Coach to really build heat on JR’s eventual return. Austin saw the writing on the wall and had no intention of putting an announcer over clean. So, just like in 2002, Austin took his ball and went home just weeks before the PPV. After all that turmoil, Vince would show up on 10/31 and announce that Austin had been in an accident and wouldn’t be able to compete, also intimating that Austin may just be using the accident as an excuse not to fight Coach. Prior to the announcement, Coach had brought the returning Goldust out, explaining that he would be Coach’s backup at the PPV. Vince then announced that he had promised Coach a match, so he brought out a replacement: Funaki. Coach and Goldust would quickly take him out and the Coach issued an open challenge for the PPV. And with that, Batista made his return to Raw. He stormed to the ring and a brawl broke out. As they fought, Vader showed up and helped Coach and Goldust take out the Animal. So, the PPV match was now changed and the JR stipulation was dropped from it. The whole angle was pretty much a mess at this point and the classic image of Vader falling on his fat ass as he got out of the ring just capped it all off.
Scott: Now I’m furious because instead of seeing Steve Austin redeem himself for losing his last match in San Diego four years earlier, we see the World Heavyweight Champion in a complete throwaway match against Coach. They should have just cancelled the match. Sure seeing Goldust is cool, and of course the return of the Mastodon…Vader! Of course Vader looked like he ate the rest of Camp Cornette but it was cool to still see him. They dance around for a bit but in the end the Animal hits the Demon Bomb and that’s that. No Austin = Shit grade. Grade: .5
Justin: Our next match was born out of a complete mess, and once it again it involved Steve Austin walking out of the company. Although, this time nobody could really blame him, as they wanted him to lose cleanly to an announcer. Batista steps up and fills in and gets a big pop from the fans during his entrance. I liked Coach a lot as a heel authority figure or corner man, but he just wasn’t that great in the commentary booth. He was entertaining on the mic here, setting up his match. I was excited to see Vader back, but my Lord was he humungous. This return by Vader may not amount to much, but at least he gave us the tremendous moment of falling off the apron on Raw. Due to the stipulation, Goldust and Vader were able to stay involved throughout the match, but Batista was able to ward all three off early. Goldust would use a kendo stick to turn things around and then Coach would use a belt to stiffly whip Batista. Batista shook it off and would get some revenge by whipping Coach with the same belt. Styles was pretty funny here as he ragged on Coach, loving every minute of this glorified squash. Batista would take all three out and then pin Coach with the Batistabomb to pick up the win. The crowd was hot throughout and this was fine for some more nostalgia and at least this time, the right guy went over. This could have been a lot of fun with Austin in the match, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Grade: 1
6) Trish Stratus wins a Fulfill Your Fantasy Battle Royal to retain WWE Women’s Title at 5:23
Entrants: Ashley Massaro, Mickie James, Victoria, Maria, and Candice Michelle
Fans choose Diva’s outfits
Lingerie: 43%; Leather & Lace: 32%; Cheerleader: 25%
Fun Fact: Mickie James began her career on the Indy circuit under the name Alexis Laree. She would hook up with TNA in 2002 and remained there for a year. In 2003, she signed a WWE developmental deal and was assigned to OVW. In 2005, she changed her name from Laree to her given name of Mickie James and was called up to TV shortly after. She would debut on the 10/10 Raw and proclaimed herself to be Trish Stratus’s biggest fan. She and Trish would team up on Raw and as of this point her fandom seemed quite innocent.
Scott: The only positive of this whole match is that Candice and Mickie James were smoking hot. Trish looked her elegant best, and then there were the rest of them. No workrate here and Trish retains. I guess it’s to give the show some eye candy, otherwise there’s not much more to say. Grade: .5
Justin: For the second straight year, Taboo Tuesday brings us a Diva tussle featuring some sultry outfits. Over the past year, WWE really updated their Diva roster and filtered in a hot array of fresh faces. The majority of this match focused on Mickie James’s character and her relationship with Trish Stratus. They would work together for most of the match and the rest of the action around them was just ancillary. The final segment was pretty good as Mickie takes Victoria out of the ring, eliminating herself as well and giving Trish the win. After the match, Mickie would hijack Trish’s interview, praising her the whole time but slightly annoying Trish in the process. Grade: 1.5
7) Ric Flair (Richard Fleihr) defeats Triple H (Paul Levesque) to retain WWE Intercontinental Title in a Steel Cage match when he escapes the cage at 23:45
Fans choose match type
Steel Cage: 83%; Submission: 13%; Regular Match: 4%
Fun Fact: Triple H made his return to Raw on the 10/3 Homecoming special and received a huge pop. After his buddy Ric Flair had been having issues Carlito & Chris Masters, the Game chose to make his return and help Flair take out his antagonists. Flair and Hunter would win a tag match, but as they celebrated, Hunter grabbed his sledgehammer and cracked Flair in the face with it. He would then brutally assault the bloodied Flair all around ringside as well as backstage. Hunter would dump Flair into a limo, slam the glass window with his sledge and have the driver take Flair away. The next week, Hunter talked about how he saved Flair four years ago and resurrected his career by allowing him to stand in the Game’s shadow. Hunter was not pleased at how Flair allowed himself to be disrespected by Carlito and then reveled in mediocrity by celebrating an IC title win, so he decided to teach him a lesson and then put him out of his misery. On 10/17, Flair cut a crazed impassioned promo that ended with him chasing Hunter off with a baseball bat. A week later, the two men would have another brawl that was triggered when Flair jumped Hunter on the entrance ramp. After they were pulled apart, Flair begged the fans to vote for a cage match at the PPV. The next week, the verbal jousting continued, as did Flair’s stumping for a cage match.
Scott: For me, this entire PPV is predicated on this match. Why? Very simple: I’m watching my two favorite wrestlers of all time beating the goddamn shit out of each other in a steel fucking cage. That’s why. This feud went straight to my heart because when Triple H cut that promo after Homecoming when he laid out a Horsemen-esque destroying of Flair after their tag team match, I related to it. He worshipped the ground Flair walked on as a kid, watching the World Heavyweight Championship matches, the promos, everything that made Ric Flair great. Triple H’s words, are my words. I worshipped the ground he walked on too, and Triple H did make him great again, forming Evolution and bringing us back to the Four Horsemen days, when heels ruled and four on one beatdowns were the norm. It was always a dream of Hunter to face Flair in a match and although they had that Raw match in 2003, it wasn’t like this. Now putting this match in a cage was the best idea because you have two guys who love the NWA style of big time matches, and they work it as such. Logic took hold here also, as Flair was clearly the underdog against the younger bigger Triple H. The Game dissected Flair early on, busting him open and bullying him all over the ring. Flair had a big time crimson mask on and it didn’t stop. Then Flair took over and he worked Triple H over, busting him open and countering Triple H’s earlier Figure Four. Both men threw each other’s faces into the mesh steel, “fish-hooking” as Joey Styles called it. It was pure excitement for me to see Flair do all the dirty cheating, nut shots and all. The best was when Flair went after Triple H’s repaired quad from the 2001 tear. That’s psychology, coming from two of the masters. All the young guys in the back better have been watching this closely. You want to be a star? You want to put a crowd in the palm of our hand? Pay attention to this match, from two guys who know how. Period. Flair was trying to escape and Hunter pulls him back in but Flair grabs a steel chair from the referee. Triple H takes it was about to use it on Flair when Flair did a classic move: A claw to the balls. Hunter drops the chair, Flair pastes him with it three times, then escapes the cage. It was twenty-four awesome minutes of violence and psychology. I was going to give it a 4.5, but to hell with it. These two men proved to me why they are 1-2 on my favorite wrestlers of all time list. They know how to work a match, create great psychology and up the violence meter when necessary. San Diego received a classic here, and so did the rest of us. Grade: 5
Justin: After six fairly antiseptic matches, we finally get one with a red-hot old school blood feud storyline behind it. Hunter’s return and demolition of Flair was fantastic and the ensuing promos between both men were very well done. The bout definitely had a big match feel and Ric Flair was even more over now after the vicious Hunter attack. After trading strikes, Hunter would dominate early, quickly busting Flair open by using the cage. He would proceed to switch between his precision offense and brutally raking Flair’s bloody head across the cage. Hunter would try to climb out of the cage, but Flair desperately stopped him and then lit him up with a flurry of chops. Flair would begin to work the leg, but Hunter brandished a chain and began to brutally assault Natch with it. He would then mock Flair’s mannerisms a bit before locking in a Figure Four to add further insult. Flair would survive it and send Hunter into the cage, busting him open. Flair’s face was pretty nasty, as it was just coated in blood. He would have a good comeback, targeting Hunter’s quad, before hooking in the Figure Four. After a good tease after a Flair low blow, the two would battle over a chair that Flair had dragged into the ring. Natch would wrest it away and wreck Hunter in the head with it, taking him out and allowing Natch to escape the cage and win this brutal bloodbath. This was just an awesome brawl and a great moment. Styles and Lawler were great in calling this as well, really adding to the drama. This was easily the best match on this show and Hunter officially comes back with a bang, delivering his second awesome PPV cage match of the year. Grade: 4.5
8) John Cena defeats Kurt Angle & Shawn Michaels (Michael Hickenbottom) to retain WWE Championship when he pins Michaels with the FU at 16:42
Fans choose final competitor
Shawn Michaels: 46%; Kane: 38%; Big Show: 16%
Fun Fact: Following Unforgiven, Eric Bischoff came out with the WWE Championship and was about to hand it over to Kurt Angle based on the DQ finish the night before. As he was about to do that, Vince McMahon came out and put an end to the idea, announced that John Cena was still champion and then told Bischoff he would have to face Cena in two weeks time. The next week, Vince announced that Angle and Shawn Michaels would square off in a handicap match the following week with the winner earning a title shot. The iron man would end in a tie, leaving things unresolved. Later in the night, Cena defeated Bischoff, despite interference from Angle. On 10/17, Vince told Eric that he wanted to see a triple threat match for the title at the PPV and that the three men involved in the vote would be determined in qualifying matches throughout the evening. Big Show, Shawn Michaels and Kane would win the matches and would be involved in the fan vote to determine the third man to compete against Cena and Angle. The next week, Michaels would defeat Show and Kane in a triple threat match. Later in the show, Angle defeated Cena in a non-title match when Bischoff forced Cena’s hand to tap out during an Anklelock. On 10/31, Cena would defeat Michaels by DQ thanks to Angle interference yet again.
Scott: After watching one of the greatest matches I’ve ever seen, we have our main event with our Champion who wants to tell a story like Flair and Triple H do, against two guys who are pretty good at it. As I mentioned earlier, everyone and their mother knew Shawn Michaels would win the vote and that instantly makes it three stars. We’ve already received two five star matches from Angle and Michaels alone. Would John Cena lower the grade? Of course he would, because he’s not either of the other guys. Even though you can pin anybody in this match to win the title, both men made a point about beating the crap out of Cena and getting rid of him so they can war with each other. This is where the Cena backlash began with the male WWE fans. Having two of the die-hards’ favorite wrestlers in there siphons quite a bit away from the Cena heat. Thus you saw a lot of booing whenever Cena was in the ring, mostly because everyone wanted to see Angle and Michaels put on another five-star war. When Angle finally gets the Anklelock on Cena and Cena tries three times to kick him off but fails the crowd was going bonkers when they thought Angle would wrest the title from Cena. Michaels breaks it with an elbow drop. After a few more minutes of battling, Cena hits the FU on Michaels and retains his title. This is where the backlash of Cena wins becomes a mess. Clearly the male fans wanted one of the other guys to win, and the girls and kids wanted their pretty boy to win. Not tonight, and most Cena haters better get used to it. The feud with Angle isn’t over since he wasn’t pinned. They tease Michaels about to win, but he doesn’t. The match is pretty good, if only because Angle and Michaels are in it. Grade: 3.5
Justin: With no palate cleanser after the tremendous cage war, the pressure fell on the shoulders of three of the biggest stars on the roster to deliver another great match. Angle and Michaels had already produced two all time classics on PPV this year, but now the divisive champion was thrust into that mix. The crowd was really split on Cena, as was quickly becoming the norm week in and week out. Angle would get off to a hot start but Michaels and Cena got their licks in as well, leading to non-stop back and forth action. After some nice three way spots, Angle and Michaels would team up and knock Cena out of the match with a cool double gourdbuster through the announce table. Angle would control Michaels with a basic attack in a pace that was a few notches slower than their usual outings. Things would pick up with a nice super Angle Slam, followed by Cena getting back in the ring and waking everyone back up. In the spot of the match, Angle would then snap Michaels over the top rope and to the floor with a belly-to-belly suplex. Angle would lock the Anklelock on Cena to a huge pop, but the Champ survived and capped off a hot finish with an FU on Michaels for the win. This is a spot that I felt Angle should have won the belt. He was red hot in the ring and was really quite over, despite being a crazed heel. I think the fans may have gotten back behind Cena if he was chasing the belt instead of dominating as champ at this point. It wasn’t an egregious choice like some others on this night were, just a spot where I think they could have successfully shook things up. Either way, Cena remains champ, but his war with Angle and Bischoff is not quite over yet. Grade: 3
Scott: This is a tale of two PPVs. The first half was loaded with poor booking decisions and pretty dull average wrestling. All these legends being picked, and then defeating all the young up and coming heels was pretty stupid. Not one heel won on the show and that’s pretty dumb. Where Vince got the idea to book this show like it was a Wrestlemania in the 80s where everyone needs to be happy I have no idea. It totally wrecked the early matches of the show. Then of course my Holy Grail came on in the form of a classic grudge match inside a steel cage with two guys who can tell a story like no one else. Then we have the main event where it felt like Michaels and Angle wanted to get rid of John Cena so we can have a great match instead of just a good match. Still the crowd kept it going and in the end it wasn’t a bad match. Having Joey Styles doing PBP definitely made things seem fresh and watching it again the two and a half hours flew by pretty quickly. It’s a tough show to grade because it’s got a five-star gem, but a bevy of two star snorefests. I’ll grade it down the middle, but if it weren’t for the cage match it would be considerably less. Final Grade: C
Justin: I think I can sum up this PPV outing with one statement: thank goodness for Ric Flair, Triple H and a steel cage, because the rest of this show was littered with poor decisions and shoddy in ring action. We got some good storyline development throughout the show, but most of the outcomes to the matches were quite questionable. We saw a couple of young heels get put down by aging veterans and comedy acts, a burgeoning heel team lose their belts prematurely and a chance to move the WWE title on to a smoking hot Kurt Angle, but both outcomes end up being botched. I liked the Taboo Tuesday concept and this year’s show seemed to flow much better than last year’s, but they just couldn’t deliver a good mix of in ring action and angle development mixed with the nostalgia they wanted to sprinkle in. The only other highlight outside of the cage war was Joey Styles on commentary. He brought a much-needed burst of energy to the booth and you could hear Lawler kicking his game up a notch, trying to match the upbeat pace of Styles. In the end, this is another disappointing Raw PPV and if not for one tremendous match, this could have ended up being the worst PPV of the year. Final Grade: D+
MVP: Triple H & Ric Flair
Runner Up: John Cena, Shawn Michaels & Kurt Angle
Non MVP: Rob Conway & Carlito
Runner Up: Cade & Murdoch